It's that time again

Just to make it clear, I have no issue with New Year's resolutions...although it would seem that the vast majority of people who make them evidently do (if failure rates are any judge!). If opening a new diary is what it takes to get you to set some new goals for yourself who am I to criticise? I have before, and no doubt will again, dealt with goal-setting elsewhere. Here I am going to set out a brief guide list for newcomers or "first-time-in-a-long-time"-comers. Inspired by the impending calendar change and by some of the strange antics I have witnessed, I thought it might be useful to put some guidance out there. So here goes:

1. You can't do it all
I could have called this "focus on one thing at a time" and had you on the right path. YOU CANNOT DO EVERYTHING AT ONCE and trying to change all aspects of your life or training at the same time maximises the range of habits you have to break and re-create. Training facet or habit-breaking, the same principle applies- sort your priorities and tackle them in manageable chunks.

The next couple could be merged together as one, or alternatively put in any order. This time it's the content rather than the order which is significant.

2. Take it steady
Hare off at 900mph for hours at a go and you almost guarantee that your endeavour ends up on the scrapheap of broken dreams...and bodies!

3. Build the habit
Creating routines for yourself lowers the need to think about it, which reduces the opportunities to talk yourself out of it, which leaves you with more mental reserves to do stuff! Yes, habits can be positive as well as negative...either side of the divided they can be built and destroyed. It's just that some will take more work than others.

4. Learn technique first
Use the lower-paced build-in to get your foundations set. OK, I grant you, it's not as sexy but getting your range of motion and movement patterns squared away will enable you to add volume and intensity quicker and safer in due course and it will save you hours of injury/treatment time, not to mention being far easier than undoing crap later on. Chasing perfection can be a negative but you need set a solid platform on which to build perfection in the future.

5. Nutrition is key
You can make progress towards most of your likely goals via improving your nutrition, even without exercise. The reverse seldom holds true to the same extent. Speaking of which...

6. Going through the motions is not helping
If you're doing some half-added exercises on a machine with a protein shake chaser you are not going to look like Jay Cutler any time soon. Equally, if you're going lightly enough to do 60 minutes on the cross-trainer or treadmill five times per week you're likely not over-reaching enough to stimulate growth (although if you are a beginner you are likely to see some growth before you inevitably break yourself trying this straight off the bat). So,

7. Who are you listening to and why?
Also known as - who are you? What history, conditions or impediments do you bring to this? What's your background? What are your goals? What are your advantages?

Do the clown hats in the gym or the steroid monkeys in the magazines or on the fora have all of these things? No? Do they have an understanding of them? No? Oh! If you have a good trainer or coach, worry about them - listen and learn. If not, the only person you need look to for approval and a watchful eye is yourself. It's your goal and your progress, what other people are up to is neither here nor there. A good training partner is a spur, not a yardstick.

8. What are you doing when you are not training?
This is every bit as important as the sessions themselves. This time has the power to facilitate or hamstring your achievements. The recovery time is when the magic happens. The time you spend reflecting on your performance is when the learning can occur. Doing the deed helps but the reflection embeds it, corrects it, develops it.

9. Give it time
Before you write it off as a failure or herald it as a success, at least make it past the end of week 2! If you've followed some of the points above this will be easier. Set yourself a timeline but preferably give this first block, this first assay a solid, honest 100% month. Then you can think about the next step.

10. All that glitters is not gold
Or "just because it looks funky does not mean that you should do it"
Or "just because it is backed by a celebrity or because it is popular does not mean that it is right for you"
Or see the narrative to point 7 above!

The danger of the Internet and the free press is that we have access to all sorts of information, programmes, gadgets and gimmicks, more so than ever before. Some will work, some will not. Some will work at the right time for you, some won't. Just like what you set out to do, if you don't do it for a decent length of time with all your heart, it will not have good odds of success.

So, that's a quick ten. There are hundred more out there. What would you add?



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